Monday 3 Aug, 2015

Brooklyn Museum “Kicks” Up Student Interest with Sneaker Culture

It’s common for many educational trips to include a museum visit. Teachers understand that museums are a terrific way to supplement what students are being taught in the classroom, but in an experiential manner. To no one’s surprise though, it can be hard to get students excited about visiting a museum. Thankfully, the Brooklyn Museum unveiled a new unconventional exhibit that could be considered a “shoe-in” for winning over students.

On July 10th, the museum opened The Rise of Sneaker Culture – an exhibit that presents the history of kicks. From the very first running shoes (that don’t look very fun to run in at all) to the Air Jordan 1, there are 150 pairs of sneakers on display, dating as far back as the mid-1800s. No matter what your brand loyalty is, you’re sure to find a pair of your favorites, as the collection dug into sneaker archives from Adidas, Converse, Nike, Puma, Reebok and even some private collectors.

Now you’re probably asking, “What can I (my students) learn from a beat up pair of Converse Chuck Taylors?” Sneaker enthusiasts will tell you that sneakers are a basic part of everyday life. They’ve walked history and, as we speak, are stepping into the future. Elizabeth Semmelhack, the curator of the exhibit, believes that “sneakerheads” are historians and the stories told at the museum illustrate their place in our history and culture.

• The first pair of running shoes looked like dress shoes with spikes on the soles. Now sneakers are more about fashion than athleticism, as well. Have we come full circle?

• Have you ever been to a concert where the whole crowd held up their phones? Well Run-DMC loved their Adidas so much they asked a whole crowd to wave their shoes back and forth instead!

• When Air Jordans were first released, they conflicted with the NBA’s uniform regulations. Nike gladly paid the $5,000 fine for each game Michael Jordan wore them.

The Brooklyn Museum journeys through the transformation of sneakers from every day athletic wear to fashion statements. It’s a look at history that we can all relate to. So whether you’re searching for the coolest kicks around or looking for a unique museum experience for your students, this exhibit is worth a peek!